Friday, January 4, 2013

Mystery Road Shoe

Food for thought --

I saw a mystery road shoe the other day while driving . It was all by itself on an overpass bridge, sitting there all sad and abandoned looking, just a lone sneaker on a cold, gray windy highway. Every time I see one of these mystery road shoes, it makes me wonder. Where did it come from? Who did it belong to? How did it get there?


I think of all the reasons a shoe might wind up alone on the road. Silliness? Accident? Anger? Gravity?  How could someone not miss a shoe? Sometimes the shoes are in pretty good shape, something I'd miss if lost. I've seen sneakers, work boots, sandals, and slippers. I never do see high heels (maybe that says something about where I live!).

Why wouldn't someone go back and get their shoe?

It's something that's teased me for years. I know there are perfectly reasonable answers to the mystery road shoe questions, but maybe...

Maybe the mystery road shoes appear to give me something to be curious about.

Who knows?  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Grandma's Sugar Cookies

My Grandma Adams was born in 1900, the youngest of a large family. Her oldest sister was born in England in the 1880's before her father came to America, settled in eastern Kansas to work in the tin mines, and sent for his family to join him. Grandma's recipes were simple and direct, reflecting her upbringing and the practicality of life in a big family on the edge of the Kansas Plains. They were also delicious, a simple celebration of good food.

When I was a kid, every Christmas we made Grandma Adams' sugar cookie recipe. I don't remember a Christmas without her cookies, all wonderful and soft and nutmeggy, shaped in Christmas shapes and decorated  with a thick layer of buttercream frosting in pretty Christmas colors.  I think they were the reason for my ongoing love of real buttercream frosting and soft cookies! I developed my baking skills with those cookies. Over the years as I made them I followed the recipe, I messed with the recipe, I rolled them thick, I rolled them thin, but I always came back to the original because, well, it just can't be bettered.

So because I love them so much, I want to share them with you. I'm not going to show you a picture, because I hope that you create your own interpretation of them. Use your imagination! I hope you love them as much as I do, and you have as much fun making them as my family does.



(handed-down cookie cutters)

Grandma Adams' Soft Sugar Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
1-1/2 tsp real vanilla extract

Put the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. In the mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, mixing well after each. Divide  the dough into two disks, wrap them in plastic wrap, and chill them a minimum of 3 hours.

When you're ready to bake, set the oven to 375F. Roll the dough on a well-floured surface to 1/4" thickness (I like them a little thicker), cut, and bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 8-10 minutes or until they're golden around the edges. Cool on a rack, and then frost as desired. (Or not - my Dad always liked them plain.) Makes approximately 5 dozen, unless you roll them thicker.


NOTE:  Be aware that the dough is stiff and gets very hard to mix once you get to adding the last of the ingredients. A stand mixer works well for me. If you want to make more than one batch (and who wouldn't?) don't double the recipe, make two separate batches. A double batch is too much for a stand mixer to handle and will make your mixer get all hot and grumpy-sounding. Trust me!


Blessings & happy baking!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chinese Fire Stop

When I was in high school, on lucky occasions I got to drive my friends to football games in our old hunter green '67 Ford station wagon. We called it the Ouchmobile because it had a dent in a rear panel and my Mom painted "Ouch" underneath the dent. (Now you see where I get some of my weird.) Anyway, we would have a blast at the games, screaming and laughing and being silly as only teenage girls can be. We'd usually go for pizza after the game, and on the way to the pizza place, sometimes we'd just absolutely have to do a Chinese Fire Stop.

NOTE:  I realize the name Chinese Fire Stop is probably politically incorrect these days, but in 1975, I don't think politically correct had been invented. Besides, we were 16-year-old girls. Think about it...!   

For those of you who aren't familiar, here's what you do in a Chinese Fire Stop:  At an intersection when your light is red, after you stop the car everyone gets out, runs madly counter-clockwise around the car one time, and gets back in the car in their original seat. Hopefully, you get this done before the light turns green. Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn't. At least once the cops didn't appreciate our humor!

It was exhilarating and silly, harmless (relatively!) and just a bit naughty. It occurred to me the other morning that I could use some of that in my life in these days of rushing, worrying, frustration, and exhaustion. Who couldn't? So here's your challenge: Do a Chinese Fire Stop at least once a day, mental or physical. Take a minute, remember a fun time in your life, let the here and now go, and re-live the good feelings you had at that time. Or take that minute to make a silly face in a mirror and then smile at yourself. Save some time for fun in your day. Fun is important. Don't forget to have fun!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Brain



My brain is full. I'm going to let out some of the stuff in it right here on this page. Get ready!

Why am I stressing so much about writing something for my blog?
I would love to play with liquid nitrogen.
I wish I felt secure enough to take breaks at work, instead of working like a maniac to make sure I get my lines done and consequently sitting for 6-8 hours straight five days a week.
I wonder where my son wants to go for his birthday dinner tomorrow?
I forgot to make my friend's cherry pecan bread for her birthday! Find a recipe, now!
How can one person (my daughter) make such a giant mess wherever she goes??
I can feel the tastebuds on my tongue. Guess my coffee was too hot this morning.
I wonder how that guy in the Youtube video made clouds inside(see it here)
I love candles!
When am I going to get the Christmas presents wrapped??
I got the first windshield chip on my new car this morning - stupid truck driver!!
My house is a PIT.
I miss my Daddy.
I find it fascinating that flamingos get their pink color from the food they eat. 
Frosted sugar cookies! Better get the treadmill working. I have no self-control.
I am too old to look for a new career!!
I hope my voice holds up to sing at church on Christmas Eve...
Time to get my butt out of this chair.

There. I feel like I can stretch the ol' brain out a little now. Thanks!

BLOG:  An abbreviation for cheap therapy. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Change

Please, everyone, read this post by my friend Talon Windwalker.

Seeing mental illness as a stigma, something to be hidden, is archaic. It's a fear-based reaction.

It's time to not be afraid. It's time to acknowledge the truth and begin to help. Raise your voice. Find your compassion. Speak up for change.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Graffiti

I live in a city where railroad tracks run north to south through the middle of town. This means if you're driving east or west through downtown on any given day, you will at some point be stopped by a train going through. When I was working in an office downtown that happened to me on a regular basis, although I wasn't in my car, I was walking to and from it. I was annoyed to begin with, but then I stopped being annoyed and started looking at the train cars. Being on the sidewalk as the train slowly groaned by gave me a vantage point I wouldn't normally have had (not being a person who ever finds herself in railroad yards...). I began to look at the graffiti as the cars went by. Some of it was pretty basic, just tags or scribbles. Some of it wasn't too bad. And some of it was, well, art. I remember seeing one particular tag over and over for several years, by someone who called himself the Rambler. He always put his name, the date, sometimes the location, and a champagne glass with bubbles (photo above, credit here). There were others, but that one stood out for me.

(photo credit here)

These days I sometimes see huge pieces in full color covering the entire sides of railroad cars - giant rolling works of art, traveling exhibitions, so to speak. I want to know who these artist people are, what their lives are like, and why they chose railroad cars as their canvas. Being curious about the human creature as I am, it's a mystery that's teased me for a long time.

When I think about it more, it's also a little reassuring to know that beauty can come from anyone, anywhere, regardless of their circumstances. You just have to be willing to look past society's "rules" and see it.






Friday, December 14, 2012

Broken

Humanity is broken. The families of innocent little children and caring adults are broken. Two men's lives are broken because they were brought to commit this tragedy. My heart is breaking for them all.

As the story unfolds,  I hope the broken families can be left in peace to grieve and heal as best they can.

Please, if you have children, no matter what age, hold them tight and tell them you love them. You never know who might be the next victim, or who will become the next shooter.